In September 2019, TTCs around the country started teaching a new primary teacher education curriculum. The Australian Government and the European Union are supporting the Ministry of Education and Sports in the curriculum revision and implementation through the BEQUAL program. This is the first time that the Ministry has entrusted a single program with providing support to the revision of both the national primary curriculum and the primary teacher training curriculum. Teachers use the primary curriculum to teach children from grades 1-5 and TTCs use the primary teacher training curriculum to train teachers how to use the primary curriculum. By revising both curricula at the same time, the Ministry is ensuring that content and pedagogy is aligned so teachers are trained on how to use the new primary curriculum with a focus on student-centered and active teaching and learning. The revision of the primary teacher education curriculum follows an iterative process to allow for on-going learning and continuous improvement. The Year 1 teacher training curriculum is currently implemented and trialled at all eight TTCs.
During the trial, joint Ministry and BEQUAL teams are periodically visiting two focus TTCs, Dongkhamxang and Pakse to monitor the implementation, collect feedback to improve the curriculum and provide pedagogical support to the teacher educators. This week, staff from the Department of Teacher Education and the Teacher Development Center are visiting the two focus TTCs for the last time in this semester. Some of the monitors are part of the curriculum writing team and will directly observe the teacher educators in action with the new curriculum and how they implement the new curriculum. The monitors aim for a classroom observation of each subject class, usually for two 50-minute lessons. After the observation, they discuss with teachers what goes well and what challenges they may face. Their discussions focus on key areas where support is needed to improve quality of teaching and identify strategies to overcome teaching challenges. This last visit of the semester also includes a learning workshop where the teacher educators can discuss their experiences teaching the new curriculum
and provide firsthand practical information for curriculum and materials improvement. The monitoring visits create a constructive feedback cycle between first users and writers of the new curriculum. The outcomes of the monitoring visits are being shared with the curriculum writers who improve the curriculum materials based on this valuable feedback. For example, teachers pointed out practical issues using the lessons plans. The writers thus decided that they will number the lessons and create a clearer coding system of the resources.
The year 1 materials have been trialled and revised for a year; they are now ready for a second run during the school year 2020-2021. At the same time, the materials of year 2 were fully drafted and will also be implemented and trialled for the first time during the upcoming school year.
Well trained teachers are crucial for student learning and the first step is a strengthened primary teacher education curriculum encompassing the new pedagogical approach.